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Full text of "The history of Whittington and his cat"

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ICK WHITTINGTON was a poor orphan. His parents 
died when he was of so early an age that he had no trace 
in his memory of what he was, or what he might have been, 
from being totally ignorant of what his parents were. 

A worthy old widow in the village used to give him a little 
food, and an occasional shelter under her humble roof. Hear- 
ing London often mentioned by those whom he frequently 
associated with, he insensibly became so en amoured of it that 
he would do 
them any 
act of kind- 
ness in his 
power ? if 
ihey would 
but talk 
to him 

about the 
wonderful ci 
ty whose 
streets were 
** paved with 


The good old widow perceiving that the poor boy had got 
something in his head that she thought would do him no good, 
earnestly took him to task, when he artlessly told her that it 
was the secret desire of his heart to go to London. She re- 
solved to prevent him if possible, and pointed out to him the 
dangers that would beset so young and helpless a creature in 
undertaking so long a journey. 

Whittington listened to what she said with surprise and 
anxiety : he loved her too much to do or say any thing that 
would grieve her ; he therefore told her that he would abide 
entirely by her advice, and from that time till the widow died, 
(a period of little more than six months) he abode in the 
same house with her. 

Whittington severely felt the loss of the old widow. He found 
himself once more thrown destitute upon the world. He there- 
fore spoke to a waggoner, to let him walk by the side of his wag- 
gon to London, as the greatest of all favours ; and the wag- 
goner happening to be a good-natured fellow, consented, and 
also promised that he should sleep all night in his waggon. 
Poor Dick got safe to London, and was in such a hurry to see 
the fine streets, paved all over with gold, that he did not even 
tay to thank the kind waggoner, but ran off as fast as his 


legs could carry him ; he walked about the streets till it grew 
dark, and finding nothing but dirt instead of gold, he sat 
down in a corner, and cried himself to sleep. Little Dick was 
all night in the streets, and next morning, being very hungry, 
he got up and walked about, and asked every body he met to 
give him a halfpenny to keep him from starving ; but nobody 
staid to answer him, and only two or three gave him a half- 
penny, so that the poor boy was quite weak and faint for want 
of food. At last a good-natured looking gentleman said to 
him " W hy don't you go to work, my lad ?" " That I would/' 
answered Dick, " but do not know how to get any." "If you 
are willing/' said the gentleman, « come along with me :" and 
so saying, he took him to a hay-field, where Dick worked 
briskly, and lived merrily till the hay was all made. After 
this, he found himself as badly off as before ; and being almost 
starved again, he laid himself dow^n at the door of Mr Fitz- 
vvarren, a rich merchant. Here he was seen by the cook-maid, 
an ill-tempered creature, who ordered him about his business. 
At this very moment Mr Fitzwarren came home to dinner, and 
seeing a dirty ragged boy lying at the door, he asked him whv 
he did not go to work ? Dick told him that he would work with 
all his heart, but he did not know any body, and he was very 
sick for want o f food. U pon hearing* this the kind merchant or- 

to be taken 
into the 

house, and 
have a good 
dinner given 
to him, and 
to be k&pt to 
do what 
dirty work 
he was able 
for the 


Little Dick would have lived very happily in this good family, 
if it had not been for the ill-natured cook, who was finding 
fault and scolding him from morning till night ; and besides, 
she was so fond of basting, that when she had no roast meat to 
baste, she would be basting poor Dick. At last her ill-usage 
of him was told to Miss Alice, Mr Fitzwarren's daughter, who 


told the ill-tempered creature that she ought to be ashamed of 
herself to use a poor little forlorn boy so cruelly, and said she 
certainly should be turned away if she did not treat him more 


The footman, an elderly kind-hearted man, was very good to 
the poor boy, and sometimes gave him a halfpenny to buy gin- 
gerbread. He also bought him a little book, and with ihe foot- 
man's help Dick soon learnt his letters, and afterwards to read* 

One morning Miss Alice was going out for a walk, and the 
footman happening to be out of the way, Dick (who had got a 
good suit of clothes from his kind master) was told to walk 
behind her. As they went along*, Miss Alice's pulled out her 
purse, and gave a poor woman some money ; but as she was 
putting it into her pocket again, she dropped it ; but Dick 
picked it up, and gave it tp her again. Another time Miss 
Alice's parrot escaped, and flew to the top of a very high tree ; 
none of the servants diirst ventute af er it, but Dick threw off 
his coat, and soon brought down the parrot to his mistress. 
Miss Alice thankod him, and liked him ever after. 

Dick's flock bed stood in a garret, which was so overrun with 
rats and mice that they ran over his face, and made such a 
noise that he sometimes thought the walls were tumbling" down 

day a ^entLenian vk 5 U;d Mr Fitzwarren, and 

»ut hi 



Dick cleaned his shoes so well that he gave him a penney. Next 
day, seeing a girl with a cat under her arm, he went up to her. 
and asked if she would let him have it for a penny. The gl[ 


aid she would, and Die k hid his cat in the garret, always taking 
fc .era part of his dinner, and in a short time he had no more trou- 
ble from the rats and mice. Soon after this, his master hada 
ship ready to sail; and as he thought it right all his servant 
should have some chance for good fortune as well as himself, he 
called them into the parlour, and asked them what they would 
send out. They all had something that they were willing to ven- 
ture,except poor Dick, who had neither money nor goods, and 
so could send nothing at all. For this reason he did not coma 
into the parlour with the rest ; but Miss Alice guessed what was 
the matter, and ordered him to be called in. She then offered 
to lay down something for him from her own purse ; but her 
father told her this would not do, for Dick must send some- 
thing of his own ; upon which poor Dick said, he had nothing 
but a cat, which he bought for a penny that was given to him. 
Fetch your cat then, my good boy, said Mr Fitzwarren, and let 
her go. Dick went up stairs, and brought down poor Puss, and 
gave her to the captain with tears in his eyes ; for he said he 
should now be kept awake all night again by the rats and mice. 
All the company laughed at Dick's odd venture. 

The ill-tempered cook began to use him more cruelly than 
ever, and always made game of him for sending his cat to sea* 
At last poor Dick could not bear this usage any longer; and, 
packing up his few things, set out very early in the looming of 



All -hallows-day, which is the first of November, He walked 
as far as Hollo way, and there sat down on a stone, which to 
this day is called Whittington's-stone, and began to think which 
road he should take further. While he was thus meditating, 
Bow bells began to ring, and he fancied their sounds seemed 
to say to him, — 

Turn again Whittington, Lord Mayor of London ! 

Lord Mayor of London ! (said he to himself,) why, to be 
sure I would put up with almost any thing to be Lord Mayor 
of London, and ride in such a fine coach ! Well, I will go back, 
and think nothing of the cuffing and scolding of the old cook, if 
I am to be Lord Mayor of London at last. Dick went back, 
and was lucky enough to get into the house, and set about his 
work, before the old cook came down stairs. 

The ship w T ith the cat on board was a long time at sea ; and 
was at last driven by the winds on a part of the coast of Bar- 
bary, inhabited by Moors, unknown to the English. The people 
of this country came in great numbers to see the sailors, and 
treated them very civill y. The captain sen t presents of the 
best things 
he had to 
the king of 
the country, 
who was so 
much pleas- 
ed with them 
that he sent 
for the cap- 
tain and his 
chief mate 
to the 


Here they were placed on rich carpets marked with gold 
and silver flowers. The king and queen were seated at the upper 
end of the room, and dishes of the greatest rarities were brought 
in for dinner; but before they had been set on the table a 
minute, a vast number of rats and mice rushed in, and helped 
themselves from every dish, throwing the gravy, and pieces of 
meat all about the room. The captain wondered very much at 
this, and asked the king's servants if these vermin were not very 
unpleasant. Oh ! yes, they said, and the king would give half his 
riches to get rid of them ; for they not only waste his dinner, 
but disturb him so in his sleep, that he is obliged to be watched! 
The captain was ready to jump for joy whence heard this j he 




thought of poor Dick's cat, and told the king he had a creature 
on board his ship, that would kill all the rats and mice. The 
king was overjoyed at the news. Bring this creature to me r 
said he, and if it can do what you say, I will give you your 
ship full of gold for her. Away went the captain to the ship, 
while another dinner was got ready. He took puss under his 
arm, and came back to the palace soon enough to see the 
table full of rats and mice again devouring the second dinner. 
When the cat saw them, she did not wait for bidding, but 
jumped out of the captain's arm, and in a few moments laid 
almost all the rats and mice dead at her feet, and the rest 
scampered oft' to their holes. 

The king and queen were quite charmed with the actions 
of Mrs Puss, and being told that she would soon have young 
ones, which might in time destroy all the vermin in the country* 
the king bought the captain's whole ship's cargo ; and afterwards 
gave him a great deal of gold besides, which was worth still 
more, for the cat. The captain then took leave of the king and 
queen, and after a happy voyage, arrived safe at London. 

ing,when Mr 
had just 
come into 
the counting 
house, and 
seated him- 
self at the 
desk, some- 
body came 

tap, tap, tap at the door. Who is there? said Mr Fitzwarren. 
A friend, answered some one, opening the door ; when in stept 
the captain and mate of the ship, followed by several men, 
carrying many lumps of gold, that had been paid him by the 
King of Barbary for the ship's cargo. They then told the story 
of the cat, and showed the rich present that the king had 
sent to Dick for her : upon which the merchant called out to 
his servants : 

Go fetch him., we will tell him of the same; 
Pray call him Mr Whittington by name. 

Mr Fitzwarren now showed himself to be really a good man, 
for when some of his clerks said so much treasure was too 
much for such a boy as Dick, he answered, God forbid that I 
should keep asingle penny from him! He then sent for Dick 

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who was busy scouring some kettles, and would fain have ex- 
cused himself, thinking they were making game of him, but 
Mr Fitzwarren made him come in, and ordering a chair for him, 
told him of his good fortune, and I wish, said the worthy man, 
yow may long enjoy it. Poor Dick, (now Mr Whittington) 
made a handsome present to the captain, the mate, and every 
one of the sailors, to his goodfriend the footman, and the rest 
of his fellow-servants, not forgetting even the ill-natured old 
cook. When Dick w 7 as dressed out in a nice suit of clothes, 
he was as handsome and genteelas any young man who visit- 
ed Mr Fitzwarren's; so that Mi&s Alice now looked upon him 
as fit to be her sweetheart. Mr Fitzwarren soon perceived 
their love for each other. The wedding-day was soon fixed; 
and they were attended to church by the lord mayor, the court 
of aldermen, the sheriffs, and all the rich merchants in the city, 
whom they afterwards treated with a magnificent feast. 

History tells us that Whittington lived in great splendour. 
He was sheriff of London in 1360, and was several times lord 
mayor ; the last time he entertained K. Henry V. on his ma- 
jesty's return from the famous battle of Agincourt. In this 
company the king, on account of Whittington's gallantry, said, 
■" Never had prince such a subject !" upon which Whitting- 
ton answered, " Never had subject such a king !" and received 
the honour of knighthood He built a church, an hospital, 
jand also a college, with a yearly allowance to poor scholars.